Volume 5, Issue 4 • September 24, 2007

Announcements

E2Campus

As part of a comprehensive new emergency management program, Augustana College has initiated a web-based system, E2Campus, which delivers informational text messages via cell phones or email during emergencies. This system will provide you vital information and instructions during an emergency situation. For your safety and well-being as well as the safety and well-being of your colleagues we strongly encourage you to sign up for this messaging system. ITS has set up a link on the front page of the Safety Office intranet website to facilitate signup. Here are the easy-to-follow enrollment instructions. Please take a few minutes right now to enroll in this important service.

 

The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity has an annual essay contest. The contest deadline for the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics, 2008, is December 7, 2007. For more information, http://www.eliewieselfoundation.org/prizeinethics.aspx

 

Midwest Faculty Seminar Topics 2007-08

It should be noted that the first Midwest Faculty Seminar will be held November 8-10, 2007 (not November 1-3 as previously communicated). An updated calendar and brief descriptions of upcoming MFS programs for the 2007-08 academic year are here . Please contact Jeanelle Hayner, Program Coordinator for the University of Chicago 's Center of Teaching and Learning and the Midwest Faculty Seminar, with any questions regarding MFS. jeanelle@uchicago.edu

 

A Center for Upper Mississippi Valley Studies at Augustana?

Might you be interested in contributing to such a Center -- by your own research, by involving students in research in this region, by placing students in agencies or firms working in this region, by writing about the region, etc? The Department of Geography has prepared a preliminary proposal which would involve studies/courses/research from any of the environmental sciences, the social sciences, literature, religion and history, the arts, and business, and perhaps others whom we may have inadvertently omitted, i.e., this center definitely would be multi-disciplinary, involving much more than natural sciences. The department has met with Dean Abernathy who, while not taking a position on the proposal, believes that the idea has potential and deserves careful consideration and has endorsed the idea of a preliminary exploratory meeting Tuesday, September 25, at 10:30 in the Hellstedt Conference Room (second floor of Founders Hall) to get a first look at levels of potential interest among full-time faculty.

Thus, if you might be interested, please read carefully the four paragraphs below which set the context for this proposal....and then come to the meeting.

Background:

Throughout Augustana's history here in Rock Island , its faculty members often have been involved in studies about this place and in community outreach. A particularly explicit focus emerged in the 1970s when the college offered a Master of Arts degree in Upper Mississippi Valley studies. This degree program involved faculty from such departments as biology, English literature (including Native American literature), geography, geology, history, political science, religion and sociology. Douglas Nelson (mathematics) as associate dean at the time and Norm Moline (geography) as program director, and other retired faculty such as Roald Tweet (English), Myron Fogde (religion) and Richard Anderson (geology), were among faculty members central to this program. This concept was well received by pre-college teachers and by a variety of community residents in different careers. Equally beneficial, the program provided a framework by which faculty members from these disciplines could work together regularly in program development and implementation, including shared time on field trips through this region stretching northward from St. Louis to central Minnesota, i.e., an earlier example of a "learning community." Yet, in the early 1980s, when state funding of graduate study by teachers shifted emphasis more to special education, drawing down an important enrollment pool, consistent enrollment became a problem, and we voluntarily recommended that the program be discontinued.

Fast forward to the early 2000s: President Bahls in one of his opening speeches expressed interest having Augustana College identifying certain "centers" on campus which would highlight things already occurring and enhance those same offerings both for the sake of students and faculty who would be involved and for the sake of community and regional visibility. Picking up on the history of Upper Mississippi Valley studies, some of us thought that such a center would be logical. Dave Snowball (speech communication) graciously volunteered to hold a series of meetings to consider the possibilities. There was some interest, but at the time not enough to move forward boldly. Meanwhile, the Department of Geography, drawing on its many current involvements in the local metropolitan region and the whole Upper Mississippi Valley in both natural and social science contexts, has continued to reflect on and develop this concept through its regular program components with the hope that other pertinent disciplines would become involved.

Move forward to 2007: In recent years the college has stated its desire to increase the involvement of our students from many disciplines in research in the area and in internships and community service. It also has stated a desire to have the college become more attentive to our more immediate urban and regional settings. Moreover, some new faculty with outstanding regional research interests, e.g. Reuben Heine in geography, Steve Warren in history, and others have been hired. Then, from outside the community, the new colonel at the Rock Island District of the Corps of Engineers and the citizen organization River Action have expressed interest in people and institutions becoming more proactive in promoting this area as a key location for studies about the Mississippi River and surrounding cities and land uses, even suggesting that some kind of institute might be set up in conjunction with one of the area universities. To the faculty in the geography department, this coming together of our own regional studies history, our own administration's commitment for more outreach, and community interest seem to suggest that now is a good time for us to reconsider our position and the possibility of a Center. It is our guess that if Augustana does not move forward with the development of such a center, another institution in this middle section of the Upper Mississippi Valley will.

Next step: Interested faculty should come to this meeting to give some general consideration to the idea and then to consider next steps to investigate the idea thoroughly later in the year and determine if it is a direction the college should go. Thanks for your attention. I hope that we will get a good attendance at this brief exploratory meeting on Tuesday.

Norm Moline

Hamming Professor of Geography

(on behalf of all four geography department faculty)